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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An undercover FBI agent becomes a vigilante assassin and sets out to unleash vengeance upon the corrupt businessman who slew his family. Special agent Frank Castle had it all: A loving family, a great life, and an adventurous job. But when his life is taken away from him by a ruthless criminal and his associates, Frank has become reborn. Now serving as judge, jury, and executioner, he's a new kind of vigilante out to wage a one man war against those who have done him wrong. Roger Ebert wrote ""The Punisher" is a long, dark slog through grim revenge. Unlike most movies based on comic book heroes, it doesn't contain the glimmer of a smile, and its hero is a depressed alcoholic -- well he might be, since his entire family, including wife, child, father and even distant cousins -- has been massacred before his eyes. As he seeks vengeance, he makes the Charles Bronson character in the movie "Death Wish" look relatively cheerful and well-adjusted." The Punisher is filled to the brim with gruesome violence and gritty action. But at the same time it is a very moving and tragic piece of film. You can't help but sympathize with Castle, the most compelling anti-hero to light up the silver screen in a very long time.
What distinguishes this film from the typical 'get even' scenarios,
like 'Billy Jack' and 'Dolan's Cadillac,' amongst other vigilante
vignettes, is the bit of comedy derived from Frank Castle's 'apartment'
neighbors. The man with the piercings should enliven veterans,
especially those who have been POW's and tortured. I'm sure Senator
John McCain would be proud of him.
The acting is far better than most films of this genre, as is the script. Casting John Travolta (who has lately made a few films where he is the villain)and Tom Jane is a wise decision.
I stayed up until midnight (late for me) to watch this film on IFC, despite numerous, frequent and lengthy ads.
If you like extreme violence, this film is for you. I am a Vietnam veteran and don't usually watch films like this. I would just as soon forget, but was endeared to the protagonist and his friends/neighbors.
Remakes are sometimes worth it. I'd choose this one over the original, any day. Not only does it have someone who can act, unlike the older one, it's so much more exciting. This one's been peppered with so much more. It's as if the original has been given a whole new makeover. This one, more lengthened out, is a darn sight more exciting, colorfully as with it's baddies, especially Will Patton, where again Travolta shows us he can play bad just as good as playing good. Where as the original had Lundgren also taking out other trash, unrelated to the people, responsible for taking out his family, what we have here is vigilante (Jane) sticking to one plan, retaining the same name as in the original, disposing of every single body responsible for executing his whole family, including wife and kid. It was in retaliation for a sting operation, where one of Travolta's sons were killed, where his wife implored him to kill Jane's whole family, (a beefy Roy Schieder as his dad) where of course Jane survives. No one loves revenge more than me, and here we lap it out, where it's not always pretty. I'm never gonna forget hit-man, Harry Heck, or a few other characters like Jane's new found neighbors and friends, one girl who's sweet on him, another one played by comedian John Pinette. The end of the movie, leaves it mark too, 'a have to see' moment. As with other remakes, we can be sure they'll be livelier, and gorier, if sometimes overindulging. Hey that's not a problem, where here, it works splendidly, with a great choice of lead, in Jane as the hero vigilante. A glorified and exciting remake, way ahead of the original, where the movie itself doesn't feel like it's part of that terrible 1990 pic.
Whereas everyone knows Superman and Batman, some may be unfamiliar with
the (slightly more violent) comic books of the seventies, The Punisher.
The titular character is Frank Castle, an FBI agent whose family is
murdered by the mob and so he seeks to reek vengeance on all wrong
The Punisher was made into a movie in the eighties (starring Dolph Lundgren) which was met with mixed reactions. It wasn't much like the comics, but it was a fun ride. Now, in 2004, they tried again. This time setting a darker tone (in line with Batman Begins) and casting Thomas Jane as The Punisher.
Again, the film was met with mixed reactions. Personally, I don't think it's that bad, but then it does have its faults. First of all Thomas Jane - fine actor he may be, he just seems too small and weedy to be this unstoppable killing machine. Fair play to him for beefing up for the role (he is annoyingly buff!), but still he's too small. If you know the punisher from the comic books, you'll know he's about 6'2 with a Schwarzenegger-like body, plus a craggy, gritty, lived-in face. Thomas Jane is just too much of a pretty boy! However, he does his best (at least he has the voice for it somehow!). Incidentally, Thomas Jane was not in the (semi) sequel 'The Punisher: Warzone.' Instead, Ray Stevenson was cast as the main man. He too was too small (body-wise), but his face - literally - suited the part more as he was uglier (sorry, Ray!).
So Thomas Jane goes on a violent killing spree, despatching all those who wrong his late family, right? Wrong. Actually, there's not all that much 'punishment' in the film and it comes across as more of a 'How Frank Castle Became The Punisher' movie, almost like it's actually a prequel to Dolph Lundgren's eighties outing. This lack of constant action may well irritate the fan-boys, denying the film a warmer reception. Perhaps this lack of action may be down to the budget? Normally, 'Marvel' superhero films get a really big budget to play with (think Iron Man, Thor, Avenger etc), but this one is pretty scaled down. It attempts to show the Punisher's 'human side.' We see him having dinner with neighbours, dressing in casual clothes etc. Somehow it 'humanises' a character that is supposed to be colder than your average human (more like the Terminator).
But The Punisher did have reasonable success on DVD sales, meaning it wasn't all bad. This could be because it may not have been the most faithful interpretation of the comic, but it was pretty mainstream, i.e. appealing to as many people as possible.
I found its main faults were, for one, The Punisher's 'comic relief' neighbours. I hated them. I wanted to see them 'punished' more than the villains. And, secondly, there are a few plot points which left me rolling my eyes. The Punisher is a wanted man, known in the media for illegally slaying people (bad people, but still people). However, he simply lives in a block of flats, spends his days out front tinkering with cars and wandering round the streets, yet no one seems to ever find him. Even the bad guys seem to know where he lives, yet only come for him at home after he's done away with most of them.
Anyway, I digress... parts of it annoyed me, but, ultimately, what you have here is a pretty solid 'revenge movie.' You don't have to know or like the comic to enjoy this. If you want some gritty, revenge-based violence, then give this a go.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's very fun.
What makes this film work is Thomas Jane's performance as Frank Castle. He nails this role like the way Robert Downey Jr. or Hugh Jackman nail their performances as Iron Man and Wolverine. He's that good and that fun to watch on screen.
Frank Castle aka The Punisher is one of my favorite Marvel characters, director and writer Jonathan Hensleigh does a good job bringing the character to life. Combine that with Thomas Jane's performance, it's pure gold. The characterization and performance of Frank Castle is the film's bright spot. Action sequences and the kills are fun to watch. Hensleigh pays tribute to many action films from the 70's and 80's, one particular is the scene where Frank's wife and child are dead pays homage to Mad Max.
The film does a great job building up Frank Castle's arc. Here is where Johnathan Hensleigh poured his heart and soul into. Everything to do with Frank Castle is all pure gold, however the same cannot be said for the villain. John Travolta does a pretty good job being a merciless business man Howard Saint, and he is obviously has fun with the role. Even so it's very cliché and very two-dimensional despite some good moments.
The supporting cast is good, some have more prominent roles than others. This is a very grim film, but it also adds some layers of levity to ease some tension as it provides some decent humor coming from Ben Foster and John Pinette who portray his neighbors Dave and Bumpo. Eddie Jemison who at first is a lackey for the Saint's becomes his inside man and provides some good wisecracks. Rebecca Romijn portrays Joan, a neighbor and potential love interest, but her character isn't very expanded and is just sort of there. Will Patton is Howard Saint's right hand man and he also delivers a good performance as he gets all the dirty work done for him, but he isn't very fleshed out either.
Although The Punisher's plan is set up brilliantly, I found that it took forever to get it going, I understood what was happening, but I felt as if he could have moved forward with the plan at a more faster and accelerated rate. It only slows the film down in some parts. But make no mistake, when his revenge or so called "punishment" plan is fulfilled, as an audience member you will be pretty darn satisfied.
The Punisher is good film, and out of the three attempts that were brought to the screen, this one is the clear champion. It's not perfect, but it's fun and provides many tense and cringe- worthy moments and plenty of violence. In the end it's Thomas Jane's performance alone that makes this film work.
Plot In A Paragraph: Retired under cover agent Frank Castle (Thomas
Jane) goes on a murderous rampage after his family are all killed on
the orders of a money launderer (John Travolta) in revenge for his son
dying during his last case.
I liked this movie quite a lot, it has some very funny dark humour and a great score.
I quite like Thomas Jane as an actor, and think it's a shame what happened to him over the Stallone movie "Bullet To The Head" as I think he would have made the movie better. He does a superb job of all of Frank Castle's various emotions. He deserved to be getting he bigger and better roles than he is. Will Patton does OK as Travolta's right hand man and best friend. For his brief time on screen, Roy Scheider brings style and panache to the overblown violent proceedings early on.
But I thought Travolta was at his hammiest. Definitely not one of his finest moments.
I'm surprised this never got a sequel.
This was better than I expected, especially if you watch it as "based
on a comic book" and not so much as an action film. The beginning is
very good -dark- as we watch 'Frank Castle' lose his entire family
(including Roy Scheider) in a mob hit. John Travolta plays the mob boss
and was great, meeting his demise in a totally violent ending as "The
Punisher" destroys his life. Wow he really gets his revenge!
The fight scenes in general are pretty over the top but in a fun way, especially the one with the large Russian hit man. That was awesome. The three nerdy neighbors (including Ben Foster) provide some humor and humanity.
On a side note the guy playing Castle/Punisher (Thomas Jane) looks so much like Christopher Lambert that it must really suck for him getting roles. I thought it was Lambert until I checked IMDb. His sorta love interest also resembled Rebecca Romijn. 04.13.14
Marvel Films, up to this point, has found enormous success with the
X-Men and the Spider-Man franchises, but there is one film that is not
often on people's radar and that happens to be the Punisher. Marvel
films are generally family-friendly, but this film is far from it. It
has an enormous amount of action and blood, but it's cheerless and
gritty which I like to see every once in awhile. Frank Castle aka The
Punisher makes Batman seem like a ray of sunshine. But if you're in the
mood for a good, old-fashioned action film, you probably will not be
disappointed with this film.
Jonathan Hensleigh's film is about a man named Frank Castle who has just witnessed his entire family being murdered and is injured himself. When he recovers, he changes his persona and becomes a man seeking vengeance. He plans on going after Howard Saint and his cronies, the men responsible for the death of his family.
The film is full of fine performances. Thomas Jane "shines" in his role as Castle. John Travolta makes a capable bad guy and he shines towards the end. His number one henchman is played by the always good Will Patton. We get some good comedy relief by Ben Foster and his pierced character. We even get a cameo by Martin Brody himself, Roy Scheider.
Overall, The Punisher is very entertaining despite the high body count and an abundant amount of carnage. The story may not be the greatest, but the film matters most when the bad guys start flying. Marvel never really got popular until the first Iron Man film in 2008, but this is one of their earlier greats. Too bad it doesn't have the popularity it deserves. Lots of action, violence, and blood. Nothing wrong with that. I rate this film 9/10.
Underrated, Violent, and Grim, this R-Rated Marvel Comics Movie is
Fairly Accurate in Tone to the Comic Books that have been Around Since
1974 when the Character Debuted in the Amazing Spider-Man Book.
The Punisher Became a Relentless Vigilante with Little Remorse and Used Stylized Ultra-Violence as His MO. In this Movie Thomas Jane Manages to Brood with Believability and is Stone-Faced Serious, just Like His Comic-Book Persona.
The Film may be a Tad Too Long with John Travolta's Villainous Character and Assorted Sub-Plots, but it doesn't Manage to Detract from the Power of the Revenge Story and the Part with the Neighbors, Highlighted by Ben Foster's Gen-X Slacker. This and a Few Other Satiric Highlights do Lighten the Film just a Bit, Like the Hired Killer from Memphis.
There are Other Outstanding Scenes like the Hard-Nosed Fight with the Russian, and the Ending as The Punisher is just Nasty and Brutal in a Movie that is Brutal from the Beginning.
Fans of the Comic will Most Likely Like it as will Action Movie Junkies that Appreciate R-Rated Comic Book Movies that Don't Hold Back.
Note...If you liked this there is a follow up Movie, Punisher War Zone (2008) that is even More Violent and is an Over the Top Treat for Frank Castle Fans.
Note 2...The First Appearance of The Punisher in Film was done in (1989) starring Dolph Lundgren. An Ultra-Low Budget Affair that didn't have a clue. The Producers didn't even bother to have Him wear the Trademark skull logo. Unforgivable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Thomas Jane, John Travolta, Samantha Mathis, Laura Harring, Rebecca Romijn, Will Patton and Roy Scheider star in this 2004 action film based on the Marvel Comics. Jane plays Frank Castle, an undercover FBI agent who has a wife, Maria (Mathis) and son, Will (Marcus Johns). Soon, Frank retires and has a family reunion where he and his family are targeted by wealthy, corrupt businessman, Howard Saint (Travolta) seeking revenge for his son's death. Frank is shot and left for dead along with his family, but survives and goes after Saint and his family enforcing punishment. Harring (The Forbidden Dance) plays Saint's wife, Livia, Romijn (X-Men) plays Joan, a waitress who Frank befriends, Patton (Armageddon) plays Quentin Glass, Howard's friend & associate and the late, Scheider (Jaws) plays Frank's father, Frank Sr. This is a good comic book adaptation and Jane is great in it. I recommend this.
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